The launch of the UN Sustainable Development Goals was today described as dangerous and misleading by the NSW Chapter for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE). The 17 Goals (which aim to end poverty and hunger, preserve the environment, ensure ongoing prosperity for all and foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies), are very worthy aims however, they are based on a false foundation said Phil Jones on behalf of CASSE NSW.
“It defies logic that you can have unlimited economic growth on a planet of finite resources, yet that elementary point is overlooked in this project," said Mr Jones. “Goal 8 is to ‘promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all’. As there is no such thing as sustainable economic growth, this UN initiative is relying on the same processes to cure the ills that growth has created.
“At some point the global community will end up with a relatively stable economy, or a steady state economy whether we like it or not. These Goals fail to acknowledge that there are physical limits to economic growth at both local and global levels and that these limits are not always definite and often disputed. For example, how much carbon dioxide can we allow in our atmosphere? How much of the Murray-Darling Basin water should be allocated to farmers? At what point can it be said, ‘Enough is enough’?
“This project is a profound failure of global leadership. It presents no challenge to the almost universally acceptance notion that economic growth is unquestionably good, necessary and unavoidable. The Steady State Economy is in everyone’s long-term self interest. It becomes obvious that there is a limit to the number of people on the planet and that we must decrease the throughput of resources.
“The idealism behind the Sustainable Development Goals is to be commended particularly the concern for poorer and island nations. However, the current 'Aid for Trade' promoted as part of Goal 8 could well be replaced by 'Aid for Resilience'.
The UN agenda in this field includes an elaborate scheme to monitor the progress of the Goals. However, as Herman Daly, a former Senior Economist in the World Bank put it:
"As important as empirical measurement is, it is worth remembering that when one jumps out of an airplane, a parachute is more beneficial than an altimeter. First principles make it abundantly clear that we need an economic parachute. Casual empiricism makes it clear that we need it sooner rather than later. More precise information, though not to be disdained, is not necessary, and waiting for it may prove very costly" (Daly, 2007, p.22).
"Any meaningful sustainability development goals cannot be based on endless growth, and CASSE NSW calls on the UN to drop this premise," Mr Jones said.
For further information contact:
Phil Jones, 0410 712 433
Haydn Washington, 0427 367 024
NSW Chapter of the Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy
This site is run by the NSW Chapter of The Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE). It contains news about the NSW Chapter (including details of meetings) plus interesting publications, organisations and events that NSW members come across.